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Should You Use Resume Templates in MS Word?

Updated: Feb 21

MS Word Templates are a good thing, right? They make sure you keep your formatting in check, and they also make sure you don’t forget any of the crucial elements of a resume. On top of all of that, they also look nice because, hey somewhere, a professional built them, right?

Should you be using Resume Templates in MS Word?

If you agree with what I’ve written above, this article is for you. And no, it’s not right. You should definitely steer clear of any resume templates you can find out there on the internet. There are a couple of key reasons why you should avoid these resume templates, including the fact that resume's usually don’t pass a company’s ATS software scan, and that they’re so generic and widely used that it’s almost considered a bad thing.

Here’s why:

MS Word Templates Are Bad Because They're Too Generic:

The worst thing you can do to your career is be too generic, and show no character, whatsoever. I’ve heard, multiple times, of hiring managers reading cover letters copied from the internet, in which people say they’re ‘really motivated’ for that particular job position. Really motivated, yet you can’t be bothered to write five unique sentences explaining why, so you just copy and paste content from a website? This is just one of the things a hiring manager is bound to ask you if they even bother to invite you to an interview.

A resume must not only look and feel professional, but it also needs to show strong character. Nobody wants a drone in their office, they want a real-life, living, breathing human specimen of flesh and blood – there’s enough of artificial intelligence in the office as it is. Your resume is your first contact with a potential employer, and you need to woo that person. By presenting yourself as a generic, off-the-computer person, you’re not wooing anybody.

Microsoft Word Resume Templates That Get You Noticed

And by taking a resume template from MS Word, you’re showing neither professionalism, or character. Even if you deliberately remove any character from your resume and want to sound emotionless, you’re still demonstrating a lack of professionalism by employing a generic template.

Most MS Word Resume Templates Won’t Pass A Companies Software System Scan:

But even more important than having ‘character’ or showing professionalism, is the fact that most MS Word resume templates won’t even make it pass the company’s ATS System. An ATS System (Applicant Tracking Software System) is a piece of computer software which scans all the resumes that come in, eliminating all those that don’t fit the criteria set by the hiring manager.

The usual eliminatory factors that throw resumes in the trash bin (but not limited to) formatting issues, photos and images, fonts, keywords and search phrases. Miss any of the above, and you’re risking your resume never even reaching a hiring managers desk because the companies software system rejected your resume during it’s software scan.

What Should A Powerful Resume Look Like:

First of all, your resume should be personalized and unique. That way, you will show your potential employer that you have taken the job application seriously, that you have devoted enough time and attention to build a proper resume, and that you have crafted a unique one.

Next, your resume should show character, and you do that by showing all the skills necessary for that particular position, and then some. That way, you will show that you are an interesting and engaging individual that can contribute not only to the work being done, but also to the positive atmosphere in the office, and that’s extremely important.

Nothing says “I’m a team player, willing to work under pressure” quite like saying you spend three hours a week volunteering at a nursing home.

And finally, your resume needs to pass the criteria set by the hiring manager to the ATS System. Your resume should also include the proper fonts, proper keywords and search phrases, and must be devoid of all things that are not text, including photos, images, charts, graphs, and any other multimedia.

To summarize, do not use Resume Templates from MS Word! Taking all these things into consideration, the conclusion is that you should never, under no circumstances, use a MS Word resume template. They’re generic, they’re being used by everyone and most importantly – they most likely wouldn’t pass a company’s ATS software scan. Need help writing an executive level resume that's astonishing, engaging, and influential resume?

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